Tariffs, poor weather hit Ohio farmers hard as they brace for difficult winter

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Wednesday, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine said he could not recall a worse situation for Ohio’s agriculture community.

Not even the drought of 1988 was as bad as it has been for farmers and ranchers.

This time around, it’s not a lack of rain that’s the problem; it’s quite the opposite—too much.

Poor weather last fall and a soaker of a spring earlier this year has caused growers north of I-70 to miss planting windows and left acres of fields flooded and barren.

On top of that, tariffs continue to hit hard.

According to wheat farmer Brad Moffett, with the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers, when it comes to marketing any agriculture commodity it’s all about demand.

“We’re destroying demand with tariffs,” said Moffett.

Moffett says the agriculture community understands the occasionally need for tariffs but he also says, “They’re going on a little too long.”

He wants to see the USMCA trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada signed as soon as possible because Mexico and Canada are their top customers for corn, wheat and ethanol. Meanwhile, China is our country’s top customer for soybeans. Moffett says tariffs with China need to be resolved as well.

Between the weather and tariffs, Moffitt says farmers, especially in northern Ohio, are in a tough position.

“When we can’t get corn in the ground it affects dairy, it affects hogs, it affects poultry because we need corn silage for dairy; we need corn for the energy portion of the diet; we need soybeans for the protein portion of the diet; and it’s going to drive the price of feed up because there will be some shortages,” said Moffett.

Moffett says, some farmers are already feeling it.

Jack Wilson is a rancher that raises Hereford bulls in Kingston, Ohio and he brought two of those bulls to the Ohio State fair. One of his bulls took first place in its division and class while coming in second place overall. Depending on the time of year, the 2,300 lb. bull eats 35-50 lbs. of grain per day and another 15 lbs. of hay, if he can find some.

“There’s been no good hay made up around home in Columbiana County, and straw, very little wheat so there’s very little straw; corn is getting a little bit high to feed the stock and stuff,” said Wilson. “It’s gonna be a tough winter, I have a feeling.”

Wilson says the pain is just beginning.

“Especially with two bad years, because last year wasn’t that great either. It was awful wet last year so there was no good hay made last year; there’s an awful hay shortage,” said Wilson.

And he says, the hay that is available is subpar.

“The hay isn’t as good as what it should be; the protein level is low in it and stuff, so then it takes more corn to help keep [his bulls] in good order,” said Wilson.

While Wilson is being hit hard in his pocket book, he says dairy farmers will get it worse

The Ohio State Treasurer has opened up access to a loan program for farmer as a result of the terrible spring weather.

Wilson says, he’s signed up for it but is holding off on drawing any assistance for as long as he can.

For more information about how tariffs and the weather have affected farmers and ranchers in Ohio, Moffett recommends coming down to the State Fair and talking with experts there.

“You’ll find positive thinkers that are a little scared right now,” said Moffett. “But they’ll bounce back.”

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